Minnesota Twins Offseason Trade Partner Profile: St. Louis Cardinals

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: St. Louis Cardinals fan looks on before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals on April 17, 2014 at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: St. Louis Cardinals fan looks on before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals on April 17, 2014 at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Who could be their trade partners this offseason?

Now that the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, they are looking to improve the roster through trades and through free agent signings. In this series, we’ll look at how the Twins match up with teams in trade scenarios.

We will first cover the team’s 2017 and what they may be looking for this offseason and then look at whether the Twins could be a good fit for a possible trade this offseason. If there’s a fit, we’ll try to put together a feasible trade that would work for both sides. We will go alphabetically through the league, and today we will look at a team that fell off in 2017 from their traditional playoff expectations, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cardinals 2017

Since 2000, the St. Louis Cardinals have played in the postseason 12 times, but 2017 marked the second straight season the team has missed the playoffs. It also marked only the third time since 2000 that the Cardinals farther down than 1st or 2nd in the standings, finishing 3rd in the National League Central at 83-79, behind the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers.

The 2017 season saw the continued emergence of Carlos Martinez into one of the game’s aces. He had his first 200-inning season, making 32 starts, hurling 205 innings, allowing a 3.64 ERA, posted a career-low 1.22 WHIP, and seeing a career high 25.3% strikeout rate while matching a career-low 8.3% walk rate.

Lance Lynn returned from Tommy John surgery, and he was impressive, making 33 starts, throwing 186 1/3 innings, with a 3.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 78/153 BB/K. Michael Wacha had a solid season as well, making 30 starts, with a 4.13 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and a 55/158 BB/K ratio.

The Cardinals also saw multiple young arms work their way to the majors. By far the most successful was Luke Weaver, who went 7-2 over 13 games and 10 starts, with 60 1/3 innings, posting a 3.88 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and a 17/72 BB/K ratio.

The back of the bullpen seemed in flux all season as Seung-hwan Oh pitched to a 4.10 ERA and blew 4 of the team’s 18 blown saves. Trevor Rosenthal took over and was throwing very well, posting a career high strikeout rate before he had to have Tommy John surgery. The team was able to find stability in Juan Nicasio to finish the season as he made 9 appearances, throwing 11 innings, posting a 1.64 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and a 2/11 BB/K ratio in his month with the team.

At the plate, the team struggled mightily from the expected contributors. Outfielder Tommy Pham had a career season at 29 years old, hitting .306/.411/.520 with 23 home runs and 25 stolen bases. Shortstop Paul DeJong also surprised many, hitting .285/.325/.532 with 25 home runs.

Catcher Yadier Molina continued work toward a possible Hall of Fame line with a positive offensive season, hitting .273/.312/.439 with 18 home runs. Three other players hit 20 home runs for the Cardinals, but the offense went from 5th in runs scored in 2016 to 13th in 2017.

This offseason thus far, the team traded away shortstop Aledmys Diaz to the Toronto Blue Jays, receiving outfield prospect J.B. Woodman. They have also traded outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics, receiving minor leaguers Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.

The team has signed pitcher Miles Mikolas for the rotation and veteran Luke Gregerson for the bullpen in free agency.

Possible Trade Interest

Cardinals may want: Bullpen ace, third base, bench/bullpen depth, shedding salary. The Cardinals are still working on moves to bring in a premier closer and possibly one of Manny Machado or Josh Donaldson, which would add significant salary to their payroll, which is already at just under $140 million.

The team has never topped $150 million on an opening day payroll, and could look to shed some bigger deals to clear the payroll for their additions.

Twins may want: A power bat for the DH position, starting pitching, relief pitching

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Trade proposals

With those needs how could the Twins and Cardinals match up? Here are three ideas:

Trade proposal #1: Dietrich Enns and Jake Reed for Brett Cecil. Cecil would be roughly the same cost as signing Tony Watson, though the Twins could feasibly get Watson on a 2-year deal, while Cecil has 3 years and $22.75 million left on his deal.

Cecil is expensive as a lefty middle reliever that’s not really a closer type or setup type, but he is effective as the top lefty in a bullpen all the same. Enns and Reed would be two near-ready arms that would likely entice the Cardinals, though a player lower in the system might be of more desire to the Cardinals in a deal.

Trade proposal #2: Eduardo Escobar for Jedd Gyorko and Zach Kirtley. Escobar for Gyorko would essentially be a pure financial swap as they both bring similar skills to the table, but Gyorko is going to be paid $23 million guaranteed over the next two seasons (with a 2020 option) while Escobar is likely due $4.5-6 million in arbitration this winter.

Escobar will be a free agent after next season, so this would give the Twins a veteran that is flexible around the infield with pop in his bat, even if overpaid a bit for 2019 (and 2020) to protect themselves if Miguel Sano is not able to come back 100%.

On top of a lower-level prospect like Kirtley, the Twins could also require cash in a deal like this one.

Next: What's next for Twins?

Trade proposal #3: Eddie Rosario for Dexter Fowler and Austin Gomber. Fowler would be the ultimate trim for the Cardinals. There were plenty of off-field things with Fowler and the fans in St. Louis after he arrived, and then he missed 40+ games (though he still put up a productive 122 OPS+ when on the field).

With the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna, the Cardinals have a player to handle center field, which makes Fowler somewhat expendable. Fowler certainly would not move Byron Buxton out of center, but his defensive skills in left field would be quite valuable.

The four years of control of Rosario at cheap rates versus Fowler’s remaining $66 million over the next four years would likely warrant a prospect in return. Fowler would also give the Twins a leadoff option if Brian Dozier were to leave after 2018 in free agency.